Posts Tagged ‘chess lessons’

So I was just playing a game of #chess and then this happened! 35

January 22, 2020

Black just played Bxf3. How should white respond?

Black just played Bxf3. How should white respond?

Betcha Can’t Solve This #Chess Puzzle! 54

January 11, 2020

White to move and win. (Hint: Bishop domination is the key strategy.)

White to move and win (T. Dawson, 1925).

An All Morphy Masterpiece

January 3, 2020
A photograph of Alonzo Morphy (Paul Morphy’s father.)

The famous Checkmate by Castling Game!

[Event “Friendly Game”]
[Site “New Orleans (USA)”]
[Date “1850”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Morphy, Paul”]
[Black “Morphy, Alonzo”]
[Result “1-0”]
[SetUp “1”]
[FEN “rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/1NBQKBNR w Kkq – 0 1”]
[Annotator “Chris Torres”]

1. e4 {At the age of 13, Paul was already a much stronger player than his father Alonzo. So, to keep things interesting, Paul played this game with only one rook.}

Position after 1. e4

1… e5

2. Nf3 Nc6

3. Bc4 {A young Paul Morphy was a fan of the Italian Game.}

Position after 3. Bc4

3… Nf6

4. Ng5 d5

5. exd5 Nxd5

6. Nxf7 {The famous Fried Liver Attack!}

Position after 6. Nxf7

6… Kxf7

7. Qf3+ {Paul Morphy develops his queen by simultaneously
attacking the exposed king on f7 and the pinned knight on d5.}

7… Ke6

8. Nc3 {Again, developing with threats against the pinned knight.}

8… Nd4!? {What is normally considered a mistake, instead raises eyebrows when played at rook’s odds.}

Position after 8… Nd4

9. Bxd5+ Kd6

10. Qf7 {Threatening Ne4#!}

Position after 10. Qf7

10… Be6 {Alonzo Morphy makes a crucial mistake. Better was:} (10. .. Qe7 11. Ne4+ Kd7 12. Nc5+ Kd8 {and Paul Morphy is forced to start trading pieces.})

11. Bxe6 {Sometimes the only reasonable response to the fork is to eat off of it.}

11… Nxe6

12. Ne4+ Kd5

13. c4+ {Throwing the kitchen sink at black’s king is preferable to agreeing to a draw by repetition (Nc3+ kd6 Ne4+.)}

Position after 13. c4+

13… Kxe4

14. Qxe6 Qd4?? {The move that seals the deal. What looks to be a strong move for the queen in actuality steals the king’s escape route. If only Alonzo had played Kd3 instead. But then we never would enjoyed this game’s spectacular finish.}

Position after 14… Qd4

15. Qg4+ Kd3

16. Qe2+ {Attacking the king and his escape route on c4.}

16… Kc2

17. d3+ {A cute little discovered check keeps black’s king on the run.}

Position after 17. d3+

17… Kxc1 {Of course with perfect play, black could have survived longer. However, the opportunity to be checkmated by O-O doesn’t occur very often.} (17. .. Kb1 18. O-O Bc5 19. Be3+ Kxa2 20. Bxd4 Bxd4 21. Qc2 b5 22. b4+ Ka3 23. Rb1 bxc4 24. dxc4 Bb2 25. Qxb2+ Ka4 26. Ra1#)

Position after 17… Kxc1

18. O-O#

Position after 18. 0-0#, Mate

Below is the whole game animated:


Betcha Can’t Solve This #Chess Puzzle! 52

November 28, 2019

White to move and win!

White to move and win!

So I was just playing a game of #chess and then this happened! 33

November 12, 2019

White to move and draw.

White to move and draw.

Chess teaches inmates a different way of thinking

November 5, 2019

Chess teaches inmates a different way of thinking
— Read on

“They always compare chess to the game of life,” he said. “If you make good decisions, it’s ultimately going to lead to a good outcome. You make bad decisions, it’s going to lead to bad position, and you’re going to lose the game.”

Dorian vs Fish: Hurricane on the Chessboard

September 3, 2019


Hurricanes are one of my favorite metaphors to use while teaching chess. These massive storms arise from well known openings and thus have a predictable path for a certain amount of time. However, the path of certainty slowly gives way to uncertainty where even master meteorologists armed with powerful computers make errors in their evaluations. As with chess, the hurricane’s endgame is usually predictable based on a smaller number of variables and experience referencing similar circumstances.

Below I present a chess game analyzed as a storm. I hope you enjoy today’s lesson and consider donating to the Red Cross for hurricane relief.

[Event “Bundesliga 2012/13”]
[Site “Emsdetten GER”]
[Date “2012.12.09”]
[Round “6”]
[White “Dorian Rogozenco”]
[Black “Gennadij Lvovich Fish”]
[Result “1-0”]
[BlackElo “2475”]
[ECO “E20”]
[Opening “Nimzo-Indian”]
[Variation “Romanishin, 4…c5 5.Nf3 Ne4”]
[WhiteElo “2503”]

1. d4 Nf6

2. c4 e6

3. Nc3 Bb4

4. Nf3 c5

5. g3 Ne4

6. Qc2 Qa5 


6… Qa5: Fish swarms early on c3.

7. Bg2 Nxc3

8. O-O cxd4

9. Nxd4 Nc6

10. bxc3 Bxc3

11. Nb3 Nd4


11. Nb3: Dorian becomes organized and then starts disrupting Fish’s movement.

12. Nxd4 Bxd4

13. Rb1 O-O

14. Rd1 Bc5

15. Rb5 Qc7


15. Rb5: The tide has turned as Dorian surges.

16. Bf4 e5

17. Rxc5 Qxc5

18. Rd5 Qb4

19. Bxe5 h6

20. Rd1 d5

21. Bxd5 Re8


21. Bxd5: This creates the perfect conditions for Dorian’s landfall.

22. Qg6 Qf8

23. Bxg7 Re6

24. Bxe6 Bxe6

25. Qxe6 1-0


22. Qg6: Finally, Dorian’s sheer force devastates the last shelter for fish. The endgame is predictably bad so Fish resigns


Full animation of Dorian’s hurricane on the chessboard:


Benko’s Great Sacrifice

August 29, 2019

Chess has a rich history full of stories that I share with my students to add extra colour to our lesson material. Below is the tale of Pal Benko’s incredible life’s journey and his great sacrifice which allowed Bobby Fischer to make history.

Pal Benko was born while his Hungarian parents were vacationing in Amiens, France, on July 15, 1928. After learning how to play chess from his father at the age of eight, Pal improved quickly and impressed many during a time when the horrors of war and famine came to Hungary. At the age of twenty, Pal Benko became the Hungarian National Champion and with his chess success came the opportunity to eat and travel. At the 1952 chess tournament, Pal made his attempt to escape the suffering and defect to the West. However, Pal Benko escape was unsuccessful and he was imprisoned in a concentration camp for a grueling 16 months. After Joseph Stalin’s death, Benko was offered clemency and immediately returned to competitive chess as a means to earn food. At the 1957 Reykjavik World Student Chess Championship, Benko made his second attempt at defecting to the United States and this time he was successful.

Pal Benko in 1964.

In the decades that followed, the name Pal Benko was synonymous with chess creativity both in his opening discoveries and his artful puzzles. During the height of his career he was, easily, the most successful open tournament player in the United States winning the U.S. Open Chess Championship a record 8 times! Ironically, the most famous sacrificial move in Pal Benko’s chess career didn’t destroy his adversary but rather elevated him.

In 1970 Benko placed third in the US Championship which guaranteed him a seat in the Interzonal tournament. (Interzonal chess tournaments were tournaments organized by FIDE from the 1950s to the 1990s as a qualifying stage for the World Chess Championship.) Bobby Fischer, who at the time was taking a break from tournament chess, suddenly decided that he wanted to make a serious attempt at the World Championship. However, because of his absence from the US Championship he did not qualify for the Interzonal. In order for Fischer to enter the World Championship cycle, someone else who qualified from the United States would have to give up his seat. The US Chess Federation asked Pal Benko if he would be willing to make this sacrifice for Bobby. Pal Benko realistically knew that Fischer had much better chances than he did at the Interzonal and thus gave up his spot for the benefit of American chess. Bobby Fischer went on to win the Interzonal, the Candidates and the 1972 World Championship Match. None of this would have been possible without Pal Benko’s Great Sacrifice.

Below is a puzzle that Pal Benko stumped Bobby Fischer with in 1968. Can you solve it?

White to move and mate in 3! (Puzzle by Pal Benko)

Fastest Queen Trap Ever?

June 20, 2019

Poor Kusin managed to have his queen trapped after only four moves! This game holds the record for fastest queen trap in the history of chess and is also a really great example to show young chess players when explaining the dangers of bringing the queen out to early.

[Event "Rjasan"]
[Site "Rjasan"]
[Date "1973.??.??"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "?"]
[Result "0-1"]
[White "Kusin"]
[Black "Warfalamejew"]
[ECO "A00"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "8"]

1.e3 e5 2.d4 d5 3.Qf3 e4 4.Qf4 Bd6 0-1

Playing Blindfold Chess

May 19, 2019

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a photographic memory to be proficient at blindfold chess. The basic visualization required is really not all that different from the kind of mental exercise chess players commonly experience while calculating long endgame variations. In fact, if you’ve ever had a vivid chess dream while sleeping (quite common among my friends), you have already played blindfold chess!

Playing a chess game blindfolded (or at least facing opposite the chess board) against a class of young chess players is a sure fire way to raise the excitement level of the classroom or camp. Generally, I save such exhibitions for midway through a long camp or series of difficult lessons to add a little spice to the curriculum. In addition to adding energy to the room, a blindfold chess performance might just inspire a student to pick up the skill for his/herself which will greatly benefit their chess in the long run.

Below is my best ever such game played during the Fremont Summer Chess Camp in 2016. Enjoy…


[Event “Blindfold Game”]
[Site “Fremont, California (USA)”]
[Date “2016.7.13”]
[Round “”]
[White “Chris Torres”]
[Black “Intermediate Students”]
[Result “1-0”]
[Eco “C50”]
[Annotator “Chris Torres”]
[Source “”]

1.e4 {I practice what I preach: “Open With a Center Pawn.”} e5
2.Nf3 {Knights Before Bishops.} Nc6 3.Bc4 {For a blindfold game, I chose my most comfortable structure (The Italian.)}
Qe7 {Perhaps my opponents were trying to confuse me by choosing the rare Qe7 sideline.}
4.Nc3 Nd4 {
My students have already broken two opening rules. They brought their queen out
early and now they have moved the same piece twice. Normally punishing these
mistakes wouldn’t be too difficult. But playing foreign positions with no view of the board is stressful.}
( 4…Nf6 5.Ng5 d5 6.exd5 Na5 7.d6 cxd6 8.Bxf7+ Kd8 9.Bb3 Nxb3
10.axb3 d5 11.O-O h6 12.Nf3 Bg4 13.d3 a6 14.Re1 Rc8 15.Bf4 Nd7
16.h3 Bh5 17.g4 Bf7 18.Nxe5 Nxe5 19.Bxe5 Qh4 20.Qf3 Bg8 21.Qxf8+
{1-0, Zhotev Jasen (BUL) 2086 – Ivanov Oleg (RUS) 2425 , Sofia 8/ 8/2009 It “Hemus Open” (3)}
) 5.Nd5 {In order to punish mistakes you must attack. Here, I know that their queen must
retreat to d8 in order to stop the knight from capturing on c7 with a fork.}
Qc5 {?!} {Honestly, I did not anticipate this move at all and was forced to repeat all the moves to myself outloud and calculate.}
6.Nxe5 {!} {“Whenever you’re aggressive, you’re at the edge of mistakes.”-Mario Andretti}
d6 {I hear excited chatter from my students about “winning a piece.”}
7.b4 {!} {Even when blindfolded, it’s hard to miss this obvious threat!}
Nxc2+ {Black had no choice that did not involve losing a piece or more.}
8.Qxc2 {I gain a knight without losing the initiative.} Qd4 {The queen may look threatening, but, really, she is all alone against an army.}
9.Bb5+ {At this point I couldn’t quite see the forced mate in 4 but this check seemed very promising.}
c6 10.Bxc6+ {!} {Looks impressive but really it is just the result of analyzing checks, captures and threats.}
bxc6 11.Qxc6+ {Forcing black’s king to d8 and a nice finish.}
Kd8 12.Nxf7# 1-0

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